Page:Historical Works of Venerable Bede vol. 2.djvu/180

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108
THE MINOR HISTORICAL WORKS
their motives, and thinking they were out of their wits, began to reprove them for their folly in not knowing the man they had been talking to, and at the same time pointed out to them where he was gone. Fired to madness they rushed after Felix, who, warned of their coming by the multitude of citizens that preceded, and by the clamours of the people who were confounded at the enemy’s approach, withdrew to a secret place, which had no other defence than a fragment of a half ruined wall. No sooner, however, had the man of God entered that place, than he was protected by a work of the Divine hand; for a mound of rubbish suddenly arose and closed in the place, and a spider, by Divine warning, immediately hung its floating web on the abandoned spot. The adversaries approached The miracle of the spider’s web.and halted in awe, saying among themselves, "Is it not foolish for us to look lor any one in this place? It is quite clear that no one has been here before ourselves; for, if any one had entered, these spider’s webs could not have remained whole, for even the smallest flies will sometimes break through them. The man who told us he was here must have done so deceitfully, to delay us longer from finding him. Let us return, and refrain from searching this place, the very appearance of which shows that no one has been here before us." Thus foiled, they retraced their steps in anger, and fired with rage against him who had by his deceit led them to the place, to witness the wisdom of our pious Creator and Protector. Surely, the highest walls sometimes betray a beleaguered city, as well as defend it: for Christ protected his humble servant from detection and imprisonment at the hands of his armed enemies by a frail spider’s web: as the venerable father Paulinus says truly on this subject,—"Where Christ is with us, a spider’s web our wall shall be; where Christ is not, our wall a spider’s web shall be." The evening was approaching when his enemies departed; and Felix, when they were gone, withdrew to a safer place of refuge, rejoicing in the Divine protection, and singing